There were controversies and missteps at last night’s school board club meeting, which is to be expected when club members go off script. If there is a reason why the school board club members say as little as possible, it is because many times when they do, they make things worse.

That was the case when one speaker rose to urge the club members to put term limits on the November ballot. In response, club member Vicki Snell said that the issue did not have to wait for the November ballot and that the school board club could decide to set term limits on its own.

Oops.

Club member Martha Fluor told a term limits speaker that there was a meeting on the merits of term limits in December, 2014, and she would be happy to get the speaker a copy of the video of the presentation. Then she gave a preview, stating that of the 1,043 school districts in California, only one, Redondo Beach, has term limits, as though that were an argument in defense of avoiding term limits.

It’s not. California’s public schools rank 41st, 42nd, or 43rd in the nation, according to three reputable surveys I found. That dismal ranking should be enough for any reasonable person to understand that whatever is being done needs to be scrapped and something else has to be tried.

Ah, but that’s what a reasonable person would do.

And I couldn’t help but connect the dots – again – regarding the December, 2014 presentation and a couple of facts. That meeting was right after club member Karen Yelsey won election to her third term. Yelsey campaigned, in part, on the merits of a 12-year maximum sentence – sorry, term – for school board club members. There was some other now laughable stuff about ending the rubber stamping, but the connection here is term limits. Why, after decades, was the meeting held at that time?

Oh, and the other dot? The presenter at that meeting was Martha Fluor. There was no one presenting a case in favor of term limits.

It’s all a set-up: In two years, when she is up for re-election, Yelsey will run again.

A few people spoke about the latest musical chairs involving our principals. Sacks is out at Mariners. Broesamle is out at Cal and in at Mariners. Who’s in at Cal? Who knows? What I do know is that the administration did not waste our time with a community input meeting to get the characteristics of a new principal for Mariners and will not conduct one for the new principal at Cal. That may seem to some like a bad thing, but it’s not. Those meetings were a waste of time, a show. Need proof? Look at the process for choosing the last principal at Estancia.

During the comments about removing Broesamle, we heard,

  • “extremely disappointed”
  • “serious frustration”
  • “There was a better way of handling this”
  • [By doing it this way] “You told us you don’t care about us”
  • [We will] “No longer tolerate indifference from the district”
  • “Blatantly inconsiderate”

And…

  • [This was] “cowardly, and insulting to our intelligence”

In case you are wondering, no, I was not the speaker.

Oh, and if you plan to speak at a future meeting, please note: One speaker talked up the bungled stadium process at CdM. When her time was up, the speaker said, “I’ll go over the time as the last guest did.” Boy did this person ever. Realizing that a precedent may be set, I started the stopwatch app on my phone. The speaker spoke for and additional two minutes and 15 seconds without school board club president Dana Black ever asking to wrap it up. Not a word.

So, if you plan to speak, I urge you to keep it to three minutes. That’s plenty of time, But if you run over and get asked to finish, you can just remind Black that on June 28, 2016, she allowed one speaker to speak for over five minutes without interruption and ask why she is picking on you.

(Note to the speaker who spoke for five minutes: Just because someone else went over time, doesn’t make it OK for you to do the same.)

After that beating, there was a five-minute break.

Before we get to Swun Math, just a note that the school board club rubber stamped everything unanimously – again, how boring – including a contract extension that includes a tax-deferred annuity for Deputy Superintendent of I Can’t Keep Track of These Bureaucratic Titles Paul Reed. He’s the guy they’re using your tax dollars to keep him from retiring because he is the only person on the planet who can do this job.

Ah, Swun Math. It was a lively discussion. Superintendent Frederick Navarro was swiveling in his chair and fidgeting with his chin while all this was going on, and spoke at length about “the process.” Interesting tells from someone whose usual role at these meetings is to introducing someone who will speak on a particular agenda item. (OBTW, I got a laugh last night: One speaker that Frederick Navarro introduced actually stood up just to introduce someone else who would speak on the topic.)

The debate was about funding some coaching to the tune of a quarter million tax dollars. This is an important topic, one that should have been moved to the beginning of the meeting, but it was strategically placed at the end to avoid what eventually happened: A parade of speakers who said roughly the same thing: Dump Swun Math.

It’s a real easy call, club members: Teachers don’t like it, parents don’t like it. Dump it.

In the end, the club members chose to wait on the funding and examine the issue with more meetings and analysis. And just as Karen Yelsey will run again in 2018, Swun Math will get its funding. It’ll be in the middle of the night, but it will get funded.

More to come.
Steve Smith

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